/about gary 

After studying for a degree in philosophy at Surrey University, Gary followed the well-trodden path taken by most philosophy graduates and found himself out of work. He travelled, lounged around, almost qualified as a school teacher and took a variety of dead-end jobs for several years before finding himself working as a nursing assistant in a psychiatric hospital. Finding to his surprise that the world of work was not as bad as he imagined, he applied to train as a mental health nurse at St James' Hospital in Portsmouth and qualified in 1983. His first job as a staff nurse was on the 'locked ward' (euphemistically called the 'Intensive Care Unit), followed by a period of two years on an acute admission ward. He then applied for a six-month secondment to the alcohol treatment unit, where he learned (but was never taught) to be a group therapist. The six month secondment ended up lasting for three years, during which time Gary registered for a part-time masters degree in education at Southampton University. His next job was a joint appointment between the hospital and the school of nursing on a new nurse-led mental health unit which straddled in-patient and community care. The job included managing the unit, carrying a community-based case load and teaching a third-year cohort of students in preparation for their state final examinations. After a year of spreading himself between these three roles, he took a well-earned break from the world of work by studying full-time for his Post Graduate Certificate in Education at Surrey University whilst at the same time completing his Masters dissertation at Southampton. 

On returning to a full-time job as a nurse tutor in Portsmouth in 1989, Gary immediately enrolled for a part-time PhD at Southampton University and continued to maintain a clinical role by joining a multi-disciplinary family therapy team. Along with his colleague Melanie Jasper, he wrote and ran a graduate-entry Common Foundation Programme and a multi-disciplinary Masters degree in Professional Practice, and began publishing journal papers from his PhD and his curriculum development work. In parallel to his teaching and curriculum development work, he set up practice development units in dementia care in Portsmouth and the Isle of Wight with grants from the GNC Trust and the NHS Executive. When the Portsmouth School of Nursing moved into Portsmouth Polytechnic (later Portsmouth University) in 1992, Gary became a Senior Lecturer, followed by promotion to Principal Lecturer two years later and Reader in 2000. Gary continued to publish extensively throughout the 1990s, including books on the theory-practice gap, practitioner research, advanced practice and postmodern approaches to research. In 2001 he co-authored a best-selling text on reflective practice and began publishing a series of papers on postmodern perspectives on nursing practice and research.

Gary moved to Swansea University in 2003 to take up a Chair in Nursing, where he continued to develop his interests in practice development, action research, reflective practice and philosophy. He worked on a number of funded action research projects and helped to establish several practice development units across South West Wales. He co-wrote a Professional Doctorate course, founded the School of Health Science Academy for Learning and Teaching, and helped to set up the Wales Centre for Practice Innovation. He taught at all levels from undergraduate to doctoral, and has supervised numerous research students to successful completion. He also held a Chair in Innovation and Development with the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg health board.

On his retirement from Swansea University in 2015, Gary was awarded the title of Emeritus Professor. He continues to write and publish, receives regular invitations to speak at conferences across the world and is visiting professor at Canterbury Christ Church University in Kent.  Gary sits on several editorial boards and is editor of the 'Big Ideas' section of Nurse Education Today.


  Face to Face - interview with Gary Rolfe published inMental Health Practice, December 2010  

  Reflection, Research and the Postmodern Turn: Collected papers 2001-2006   

  Nursing Praxis and the Reflexive Researcher: Collected papers 1993-1999 

    contact: praxis@garyrolfe.net